Rodeo horses, bulls have personalities and accomplishments

Bareback horse Hollywood Hills relaxes in the back pens before a rodeo. The ten year old bay likes to be petted. (Photos by Jennifer Vimmerstedt)




Submitted for Kansas Biggest Rodeo

PHILLIPSBURG – The cowboys may be the stars of the rodeo, but without the horses and bulls, they wouldn’t get very far.

The cowboys’ dance partners in the rodeo arena, the bucking horses and bulls waltz with them to the bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding, and even though they can’t speak, they have stories to tell.

Rhett Beutler, fourth generation of the famous rodeo family, will bring those animals to Kansas’ Biggest Rodeo in Phillipsburg August 4-6. He talks about his horses and bulls like a proud dad talks about his kids: their accomplishments, quirks, idiosyncrasies, and their lineage. His admiration and respect for them shines through.

Hollywood Hills is one of those animals headed to Phillipsburg. The bareback horse, a gelding, has been to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) for the past two years. “He’s a big gentle pet,” Rhett says. “You can walk up to the fence, and he’ll walk over to you, and he’ll lean over and want you to scratch on him and rub on him.” The son of the mare Fairy Tales, he was hauled as a colt with his mama to rodeos “and he got used to being around people, and people rubbing on him at the rodeos when he was a baby.”

Hollywood Hills is a ten year old bay who weighs about 1,300 lbs.

Hollywood Hills’ sister, Wonderland, is another special horse in the Beutler herd. The dark bay mare, a fourteen year old, is out of Fairy Tales as well and a wonderful competitor. “She bucked from day one,” Rhett said, “ever since we started bucking her. You could tell that the first time we bucked her, she would be special. She jumps and kicks every time and never weakens.” Wonderland has been selected for the past ten consecutive years to buck at the WNFR, “and that’s saying something, to have a horse go ten times in a row.” Both Hollywood Hills’ and Wonderlands’ sire was Commotion, one of the most famous sires to come from the Beutler’s ranch north of Elk City, Okla.

Killer Bee, an eleven year old mare, had an unusual beginning. She was in Burwell, Neb., at a rodeo with her mama, Molly Bee, a mare who had gone to the WNFR, when her mama colicked and died. The Beutlers bottle fed Killer Bee till she was eating grain and sweet feed on her own. Killer Bee, a light colored sorrel roan with a bald face, was runner up to the PRCA’s Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year in 2015. Cowboys get bucked off of Killer Bee frequently, but if they stay on, the results are good. “If you can ride her, you’ll win first,” Rhett said. Three cowboys who have made the eight second buzzer on her have made 90 point rides. She started out as a bareback horse, but Rhett switched her to the saddle bronc riding.

The mare Molly Bee had another colt, prior to Killer Bee, and that horse was Molly Brown. Molly Brown, a fourteen year old mare, is a little stripe-faced bay who weighs about 950 lbs. “She’s not as big as some of the other horses, but they’ve won a lot of money on her over the years.” She’s a smooth ride for bareback riders. “She comes out (of the chute), circles to the left, hangs in the front end, and kicks over the top. She gives bareback riders plenty of time to get their timing down and make a nice ride. They drive a long ways to get on her,” Rhett said. “She doesn’t buck many guys off. But if you stub your toe, she’ll buck you off. She doesn’t quit or weaken.”

Killer Bee and Molly Brown are out of Commotion, who was the PRCA’s Bareback Horse of the Year three times (1998-2000), and Bareback Horse of the WNFR in 1997. Commotion, who is 25 years old, was retired in 2006 (after ten consecutive trips to the WNFR) and now is used for breeding mares.

Ninety Proof, (on the left), is one of the Beutler and Son Rodeo Co.’s bulls that may be coming to the Phillipsburg rodeo in August. Weighing 1,800 lbs., he has bucked at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo the last two years.

One of the famous Beutler bulls who will be in Phillipsburg is Ninety-Proof. He has bucked at the WNFR the last two years, with Joe Frost winning the eighth round at the 2015 WNFR on the bull. Ninety Proof is exceptionally large: he weighs 1800 lbs, and has a motley face and short, flat, black horns.

The Beutlers start bucking bulls with a dummy strapped to their backs when they are about two years old. They begin hauling them to rodeos slowly, allowing them to get older and bigger. “We wait, and let them get big and mature before we start putting them on the truck,” Rhett said.

The horses start when they are older. The Beutlers begin bucking them when they are four or five years old, “you ease them into it,” he said. While bulls are often finished with rodeo competition by the age of seven or eight, horses are just getting a good start. Horses often buck till they are fifteen or even eighteen years old.

And it’s impossible to make a horse or bull buck if they don’t want to, Rhett said. “You can’t make them buck. I’ve tried everything in the world, and on some horses, I can’t make them kick over a beer can.”

The animals know when it’s time to head to a rodeo, Rhett said. “They know when it’s time. When you gather them and bring them into the pens, they see all the activity, and there are some running over you, trying to get on the truck. You put their buddy on the truck, and they’re down in the alley, amongst forty head of horses, nickering. They want to be there with their buddy.”

The Beutler ranch, located ten miles north of Elk City, has between 350 and 400 head of horses, including bucking stock, brood mares, saddle horses, and yearlings. Windmills and farm ponds dot the ranch, providing plenty of fresh water.

And when the Phillipsburg rodeo rolls around, those Beutler trucks will be headed north, with horses and bulls on board, ready to go to work.

The Phillipsburg Rodeo is August 4-6, with performances at 8 p.m. nightly. Tickets range in price from $13-16 for adults and $10-11 for children, and are available at the gate and at Heritage Insurance in Phillipsburg. For more information, visit the rodeo’s website at or call (785) 543.2448.